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The Negro in relation to Civilised Society. By S. E. B. Bouvehie 
Pusey, Esq., F.A.S.L., F.E.S. 

The paper I purpose to read is intended to establish the proposi- 
tion, that the negro (in whatever other respect he may, or may not, 
differ from the white man) does at any rate resemble him in this, that 
the only state in which he can attain his full development is one of 
freedom, as opposed to slavery ; and by slavery, I do not mean only 
tbat condition called chattel slavery, in which the bondsman has no 
rights. This (as has been well observed before in this room) exists 
in a pure form only in Africa. 

All the slave codes in existence amongst nations having any claim 
to civilisation, attempt to confer rights on the slave, though the ex- 
tent of these rights, and the means by which they are to be enforced, 
are in most cases miserably inadequate. However, I am not here to 
discuss the merits of particular slave codes, but to compare slavery at 
its best with freedom in a civilised country, as applied to the negro. 

By slavery, I mean any condition in which an adult is placed 
(without reference to his own will), at the disposal of another. The 
abolitionists of slavery feel that they are espousing the generous side 
of the question; they feel that it is aesthetically to be desired that 
beings so like ourselves as the negroes are, should also, like ourselves, 
be best in freedom. But the question is not to be decided on any 
such grounds. 

I have no intention of entering here, unless incidentally, on the 
problem how far the intelligence of the negro may extend, further 
than that it is such as to qualify him for personal freedom. I shall 
not discuss, e. <j., whether the negro race is likely to produce men of 
genius, or is capable of founding by itself a society possessing Eu- 
ropean civilisation, or, as was suggested in a paper read before this 
Society, of evolving a peculiar civilisation of its own. I intend to lay 
before the Society this evening the grounds on which I have been led 
to believe that the negro possesses sufficient intelligence and industry 
to qualify him for the place of a freeman in a civilised community. 

I shall consider : 

1 . The condition of the negroes in the British West Indies. 

2. Their condition in slave countries (the West Indies prior to 
emancipation included). 

3. The condition they have attained in parts of Africa. 

It may be said that no man ought to be a slave who is not inca- 
pable of providing for himself and his family by voluntary industry. 
Let us examine by this standard the capabilities of the negro, begin- 
ning with the West Indies, because that is the quarter where the 
question has been most perplexed by contradictory assertions. The 
authorities on which I shall principally rely in relation to this matter 
are : The Ordeal of Free Labour m the British West Indies, by Wm. 
S. Sewell ; and The West Indies, their Social and Religious Condition, 
by Edward Bean Underhill. The former writer is a Canadian, re- 
sident in New York ; who travelled in the West Indies towards the 
end of 1859 and in the beginning of 1860, and published his work 


originally in a series of letters to the New York Time*. The book 
contains internal evidence of care, impartiality, and desire to get evi- 
dence from all sides. It derives additional authentication from the 
fact of having been reviewed, on the whole favourably, in the Edin- 
burgh Review (January 1862), by a writer obviously an old resident 
in the West Indies, and by no means unfavourable to the planting 

Underhill was a Baptist missionary, who travelled in the West 
Indies at the request of the treasurer and committee of the Baptist 
Missionary Society, with the object chiefly of investigating the reli- 
gious condition of the numerous Baptist churches in the West Indies, 
especially as that condition has been affected by the Act of Emanci- 
pation. I am perfectly aware how strong a presumption there is that 
a man with these objects would not write an accurate, much less an 
impartial, work. But I am confident that anyone who attentively, 
and with an unbiassed mind, reads the book, will be convinced that 
the work is not only accurate and impartial in the ordinary sense, but 
written with rare judicial care and fairness. Neither of these writers 
can be classed with what are called " Negrophilists" and " The Black 
Party," and neither shows the least tendency to introduce any kind of 
maudlin sentimentality into his treatment of the subject. 

I will try to condense the results I have arrived at from these au- 
thorities, as to the condition of the negro in each of the British West 
Indian Islands, beginning with Barbadoes. 

It is admitted even by Trollope, who may be regarded as the great 
authority of the anti-Negro party, that Barbadoes has not suffered 
since emancipation. In fact, we find (Sewell, page 62) that the 
average of sugar exportation from 1720 to 1800 was 23,000 hogsheads 
per annum; from 1800 to 1830, 20,000 hogsheads ; showing a decline 
under slavery of 3,000 hogsheads : a decline attributed by some to the 
embarrassments of the planters, and by others to the cessation of the 
African slave trade. "Let us now look," says Sewell, "at the Bar- 
badoes sugar exportations of the present day, premising with the ob- 
servation, that from 1826 to 1830, the average weight of a hogshead 
of sugar was 12 cwt. ; from 1830 to 1850, 14 cwt. ; and is now from 
15 to 16, or even 17 cwt. With this difference of weight against her, 
Barbadoes exported in 1852, 48,610 hogsheads; in 1853, 38,316; in 
1854, 44,492; in 1855, 39,692; in 1856, 43,552; in 1857, 38,858; 
in 1858, 50,778, or nearly double what she exported during the most 
favourable year of slavery."* Sewell then passes in review the whole 
of the exports and imports of Barbadoes with similar results. 

It may be asked whether any light can be thrown on the causes of 
this extraordinary prosperity of the sugar planters of Barbadoes, as 
compared with those of the other West Indian Islands. We must 
remember that in Barbadoes the land is as densely peopled as in the 
old countries of Europe (800 persons to the square mile), and that, 
therefore, the employer has the command of the labour market. This 
fact seems to offer a clue to the West Indian enigma, by suggesting 

* Tbis was written in 1859, and the export of 1858 was therefore the last to 
which the author could refer. 


that the phenomena of the West Indian labour market depend, not so 
much on the characteristics of race, as on the most obvious laws of 
political economy. We all know that in a new country it is one of 
the greatest difficulties to obtain steady and continuous labour ; for 
as soon as the labourer amasses a little money, he establishes himself 
as a small proprietor. Now in the United States, and in our own 
colonies, the vacuum thus created is perpetually being filled up by a 
fresh stream of immigration from Europe ; but in the West Indies (as 
the white man either cannot live and work there, or thinks that he 
cannot, and therefore does not come), and the black cannot now be 
brought, this vacuum remains unfilled, except partially by Coolie im- 
migration from India and China. This cause would alone be amply 
sufficient (even if there were no other) for what is commonly called 
the rum of the West Indies, •'. «., the ruin of their principal planters, 
and the enormous diminution of their sugar and coffee exports. But 
we shall find there are many additional reasons which would contri- 
bute to that result, equally independent of ethnological considera- 
tions. These I shall consider by and bye. 

In the small island of St. Lucia also, we find that the sugar ex- 
portation amounted, in 1857, to 6,261,875 lbs. against an average 
yearly export of from three to four millions prior to emancipation. 
And the exportation of cocoa during 1857 was 251,347 lbs. against 
91,280 lbs. in former times. In this island the metairie system pre- 
vails, under which the landlord and tenants are partners both in the 
expenses and in the profits of cultivation. (Sewell, p. 93.) This in- 
stance of St. Lucia would seem to show that liberality and flexibility 
on the part of the owners of the estates may produce the same bene- 
cial results to them as density of population. 

Having spoken now of the only two islands on which the planters 
have not suffered, let us examine if there are any causes, uncon- 
nected with negro character, which would account for their misfor- 
tunes in the other islands. We shall find, on investigation, that the 
West Indian planters (as a body) were generous indeed, and hos- 
pitable, but violent, wrong-headed, unbusiness-like, and devoid of any 
flexibility in adapting themselves to circumstances, to a degree which 
has seldom been equalled. 

1. They were nearly all non-resident, frequently understood little 
of the West Indies, and their cultivation ; and were, therefore, in the 
hands of agents who had to be paid large salaries, and lay obviously 
under great temptations. 

2. The business of sugar cultivation is one of a highly speculative 

3. They were commonly extravagant. 

4. As the natural result of these causes combined, they were mostly 
in debt. 

5. Having begun with a system of slavery (unparalleled in its de- 
structivene8s to human life, except in Cuba) they strenuously resisted, 
and considered as intolerable oppression any attempt to extend the 
protection of the law to their slaves. 

6. On the verge of. emancipation, with the black population ex- 


ceeding them in number as five to one, ready to break into insurrec- 
tion at any moment, they had the insanity to meet the measures of 
the home government with words and acts bordering on high treason. 

7. After emancipation they showed themselves totally ignorant of 
the nature of a contract. They said, and published to the world, that 
it was a great crime in the negroes not to work for a " fair" rate of 
remuneration, as if any man had not a right to stick out for as much 
wages as he could get. 

8. All the results of these their faults were aggravated by the in- 
justice done them in assigning them a compensation amounting only 
to about two-thirds of the real value of their slaves ; we may conclude 
then, that the ruin of most of the planters is satisfactorily accounted 
for, without taking into account any differences there may be between 
the negro and the white man. In fact, if the negro had been as in- 
dustrious as the Anglo-Saxon, they would certainly have been ruined 
a great deal faster, for he would more speedily and universally have 
passed from the condition of a labourer to that of a peasant proprietor 
or fanner. 

As it is certain that in all the islands, except the two I have men- 
tioned, the negro does not readily work for the planter, it becomes a 
question what does he do ? Does he spend his time in idleness, or 
does he work for himself? This question can be sufficiently answered, 
chiefly from the authorities I have already mentioned. 1. A consi- 
derable number of them work steadily on the roads and in the mines. 
Sewell states (p. 284), " I sought information from the Chief Com- 
missioner of Roads, who has 3,000 men under constant employment, 
and he assured me that they worked diligently for five days in the 
week, going to market after their custom on the sixth, or devoting it 
to the cultivation of their own grounds. He had no complaints to make of 
idleness, and instead of there being a deficiency of hands, he could 
obtain an additional thousand at any time he chose. The men, he 
said, preferred breaking stones on the road to estate labour, though 
the former was much the severer work of the two. I inquired further 
of the superintendent of the Bio Grande copper mines in the parish of 
Portland, an intelligent, practical, energetic Englishman, who, for 
eight years, has had a large body of men under his command. He 
told me that at first the planters ridiculed his idea of getting labour; 
nevertheless, in all his experience, he has not known what it was to 
want labour. If he stood in need of five men, fifteen or twenty 
would apply. These men worked eight hours a day, and for six days 
in the week ; and though some of them had been in the superinten- 
dent's employ five or six years, he never had occasion to complain of 
their idleness." 

The overseers on the roads explained to Sewell (page 194) that, 
in their opinion, the reason why the negroes would not work for the 
planters and would work for them, was that they paid their wages re- 
gularly every week, whilst the planters were generally in arrear, and 
frequently altogether defaulting. 

The prosperity of the negro peasant proprietor in the parish of St. 
Ann, Jamaica, is shewn in the following passage of Sewell (p. 195) : 


1. "The district through which I have been travelling is composed 
entirely of pasture land. All the settlers own a horse and stock of 
some kind. Their cottages are very neat and tidy, and are shrouded 
with cocoas and plaintains." 

2. It appears by the latest returns (?) that, out of 187,000 negroes 
engaged in agriculture, there are 50,000 proprietors, of whom all, ex- 
cept a few, have become such by their own unaided efforts. 

3. These proprietors seem to own from one or two to five acres. 
Their labour as proprietors, and not slaves, has materially altered the 
nature of the industry of the country. I think you will perceive, from 
the following figures, that the fact is not that the industry of Jamaica 
has ceased or has been materially diminished, but has been diverted 
into other channels, which contribute to the prosperity of the negro 
proprietor, and not to that of the planter. 

For instance, in the year 1841, there were exported of coffee 
6,438,370 lbs.; and in 1858, 5,237,689 lbs., nearly a million less. But 
of pimenta, in 1841, there were exported 3,595,380 lbs.; and in 1858, 
9,465,261 lbs., t. «., more than six millions more. There is besides, 
now, a considerable yearly exportation of arrow-root, bees' -wax, 
honey, cocoa-nuts, and other things, of which there was no exporta- 
tion whatever so lately as 1841. And what is not less instructive, the 
importation of all the principal necessaries of life, of flour, bread, 
meal, corn, and pork, has most materially diminished. 

What I have said of Jamaica applies equally to the other British 
West Indian islands. The change that has taken place in them is 
admirably expressed in the outset of a petition by the planters of 
Antigua to the home government for coolie emigration. They say 
(Sewell, 152), " We regard the withdrawal of a large number of the 
labouring population from the estates, either to engage in the cultiva- 
tion of land purchased by themselves or to embark successfully in 
other avocations of life, as the natural consequence of an improved 
material condition, of the free and equal administration of the law, and 
of the facilities largely enjoyed for civil and religious instruction. But, 
while we acknowledge and sympathise with this abstraction, it is clear 
that a deficiency has been thus created in the supply of manual labour 
to an extent which is not to be compensated, either by increased skill, 
by implemental husbandry, or by the application of extended capital." 

All these facts will be found fully confirmed in the more detailed 
account of Underhill; and the whole state of the case cannot be better 
given than in the words of the lieutenant-governor of Granada to the 
home government (Colonial Report for 1857, presented 9th August, 
1859), page 81 : "The growing independence of the native labourer, 
and his consequent secession from work on the estates, will soon cre- 
ate a void in the labour market which will render a stream of immi- 
gration necessary to keep up the cultivation of the staple product of 
the island. It is generally admitted that the African makes the most 
efficient labourer ; but if he is not to be obtained, the Indian appears 
to be well qualified to take the place of the Creole. It is a remarkable 
fact, alluded to by Mr. Cockburn, that, so far from the immigrant 
being regarded by the native labourer with jealousy, he is rather 


-viewed as one of the means destined to emancipate the latter from the 
necessity of offering his services for hire, and to enable him to become 
a cultivator of the soil for his own especial benefit. A proprietary 
body of considerable magnitude and importance has already risen from 
the labouring class, and several of its members are possessed of suffi- 
cient means to carry on beneficially agricultural pursuits." 

The next point I shall endeavour to shew is that the negro, when a 
slave, works better in proportion as he is treated like a freeman ; and 
that, in those slave countries in which he is not borne down by an 
overwhelming load of prejudice, he is able to hold a position along- 
side of his fellow men with credit to himself. 

First I shall quote the important testimony of Frederic Law 
Olmsted, with respect to the slaves of North Carolina {Journeys and 
Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom. London, 1861, pages 146 and 
151, vol. i.) 

In the great dismal swamp, where Negro slaves are employed with- 
out driving, and under the stimulus of wages, Olmsted says, " They 
are more sprightly and straightforward in their manners and conversa- 
tion than any field hand plantation negroes that I saw at the south. 
Two or three of their employers with whom I conversed spoke well of 
them as compared with other slaves, and made no complaints of 
rascality or laziness." 

In the sounds and inlets of the North Carolina coast, where large 
shad and herring fisheries are carried on, many stumps of trees, stand- 
ing where they grew, but now, on account of subsidence of the coast, 
submerged some way below the water, have to be removed from the 
fishing ground, on account of the injury they would do to the nets. 
All the more firmly fixed of these stumps have to be blasted, and 
negro divers are employed to charge with gunpowder cavities made in 
them, by driving a sort of long spear from a boat moored over the spot. 
Olmsted's informant employed several divers, all of them negros. He 
thought he had removed over one thousand stumps, and used seventy 
kegs of powder. All the divers were skilful. Unusual skill or hardi- 
hood is rewarded with whiskey or (as while diving they are generally 
given as much whiskey as they want) with money. Each of them 
would, in this way, earn from a quarter of a dollar to half a dollar 
a day above the wages. "On this account," said Olmsted's informant, 
" the harder you put them to work the better they like it. They fre- 
quently had intermittent fever, but would rarely let it keep them out 
of their boats." Olmsted remarks how surprising this picture of slaves 
must appear, and accounts for it when he says " they are treated as 

That this also held in the British West Indies under slavery is 
shewn by the evidence before a select committee of the House of 
Commons on Extinction of Slavery, held in the year 1832 (Report 
of Parliamentary Blue Book, 1832, p. 301, No. 4428, et seq). 

Captain Charles Handen Williams was examined before this com- 
mission : He had formed an opinion from visiting the West Indies, 
that the condition of slavery was a happier condition than that of 
peasants elsewhere living in freedom. He thought slavery so much 

vol. n. — so. VII. u 


better than the condition of English peasants, that there could be no 
comparison between them. Clearly, therefore, Captain Williams had 
no anti-slavery views in any opinion he expressed on the character of 
blacks. The slaves of Jamaica, he says, supply all the markets in 
the West Indies. They get six dollars a dozen for chickens, and sup- 
ply also pigs and vegetables. They furnish large quantities to King- 
ston market. Some of them will have thirty dollars' worth of poultry 
and provisions at Kingston market in a morning. They rear them 
mostly on estates eight or ten miles from the town, either on their own 
little grounds, or on ground hired from their master, if they want to 
raise more than their own little grounds will produce. All is raised 
by their own voluntary labour. They sometimes buy their freedom 
in this way. An industrious slave, living within six or eight miles of 
Kingston, will buy his freedom in ten years. Some have luxuries in 
their houses, bought by the sale of their poultry and pigs. 

Robert Scott was examined before the same commission. He had 
been a proprietor in the island of Jamaica, resident there from 1802 
to 1806, and afterwards a few months in 1828 and 1829. He states 
that the drivers on the estates are selected, not for physical strength, 
but for good character, and for being men in whom confidence can be 
placed. The drivers are looked up to by the negroes. They are 
nearly all blacks and old infirm men (Mr. Scott continues); he has 
known drivers, and the best drivers. The slaves, he says, are better 
off than English people think. They get considerable sums by the 
sale of their poultry and hogs. Many of the field negroes do this. 
All have pigs and poultry, and, in some instances, cattle. Their in- 
dustry is increased by the acquisition of property. " A slave with a 
good deal of property is the best and most easily managed." 

James Beckford Wildman was examined. He was proprietor in 
Jamaica of an estate, with six hundred and forty negroes. He had 
been resident from the year 1826, two years and a half, and also in 
1825. He considered the slaves "by no means inferior to the labour- 
ing classes of this country in natural intellect." They were astute in 
driving bargains, knew well the market price of commodities. He 
thought that under emancipation the negro would be unwilling to work, 
and gave three reasons for his belief — the climate, the natural indolence 
of the negro, and the fertility of the country. He had known the 
negros, when employed for their own benefit, exhibit great intelligence 
and diligence. He had known them under these circumstances carry 
burdens greater than their masters would have attempted to impose 
on them, or they have submitted to. Mr. Wildman's attorney, Mr. 
Phillips, had, while overseer of the Camanas estate, set his people 
task work, and they then got through their day's work by two o'clock, 
and went to Kingston to spend the rest of the day in excess. The 
negro slaves do exert themselves, Mr. Wildman continues, to obtain 
comfort and advantage beyond necessaries of subsistence. 

In Brazil we find the same phenomena exhibited, as may be gathered 
from Wilkes (United Slates Exploring Expedition. Philadelphia, 
1845), pp. 52 et seq. The negro slaves of Brazil he considers divisible 
into two classes, those from Northern, and those from Southern 


Guinea; that the former are intelligent and industrious, can frequently 
write Arabic, and are formidable by their power of combination ; and 
that the latter, though not stupid, are idle. But of those which he 
classes as belonging to Southern Guinea, one half, he says, are Ben- 
guelans, whom he characterises as steady, industrious, and intelligent, 
nearly equal to the Minas, or inhabitants of Northern Guinea. 

He states of the freed negroes (it is chiefly the Minas who obtain 
their freedom), that " those who receive their freedom in reward for 
faithful services, or purchase it, conduct themselves well. Their de- 
scendants are much superior in point of intelligence. Many of them 
own slaves. There are some blacks who are priests, and others officers 
in the army." 

The Minas come down to the river Congo, and the Benguelans re- 
semble the Minas in character ; therefore, we must infer that the re- 
marks made by Wilkes on the negroes of what he calls Southern 
Guinea apply only to the Congo negro, not the stock from which the 
majority of slaves is derived. 

And Wallace mentions (Amazons and Rio Negro- Land, 1853), page 
113, the fact of a Congo negro (freed by his master) having saved 
enough to purchase two slaves and a little land, in terms which would 
seem to shew that such an incident is, amongst the negroes, not very 
unusual, and favourably contra-distinguishes them from the Indians. 

To this testimony may be added the more explicit statements of 
Bates. He informs us that in the great insurrection of 1835 and 1836, 
which threatened Brazil with Mexican anarchy, " the rebels of Para 
and the Lower Amazons did not succeed in raising the natives of the 
Solimoens against the whites. A party of forty of them ascended the 
river for that purpose, but on arriving at Ega, instead of meeting with 
sympathisers, as in other places, they were surrounded by a small body 
of armed residents, and shot down without mercy. The military 
commandant of the time, who was the prime mover in this orderly re- 
sistance to anarchy, was a courageous and loyal negro, named Jose 
Patricio, an officer known throughout the Upper Amazons for his un- 
flinching honesty and love of order, whose acquaintance I had the 
pleasure of making at S. Paulo in 1858." 

Bates further speaks of a negro servant of his own in these terms. 
"I was quite surprised to find in Isidoro little or no trace of that base- 
ness of character which I had read of as being the rule amongst 
negroes in a slave country . . . The first traits I observed in him were 
a certain degree of self-respect and a spirit of independence. These 
I found afterwards to be by no means rare qualities among the free 
negroes . . . There was nothing ridiculous about Isidoro. There was 
a gravity of demeanour and sense of propriety about him which would 
have been considered becoming in a serving-man in any country. . . . 
I had afterwards to number free negroes amongst my most esteemed 
friends ; men of temperate quiet habits, desirous of mental and moral 
improvement, observant of the minor courtesies of life, and quite as 
trustworthy in more important matters as the whites and half-castes 
of the province." 

" There was another visitor besides ourselves, a negro whom Joao 


Trinidade introduced to me as his oldest and dearest friend, who had 
saved his life during the revolt of 1835; he was a free man, and had a 
" sitio " (farm) of his own situated about a day's journey from this. 
There was the same manly bearing about him which I had noticed 
with pleasure in many other free negroes ; but his quiet earnest 
manner, and the thoughtful and benevolent expression of his coun- 
tenance shewed him to be a superior man of his class. He told me 
he had been intimate with our host for thirty years, and that a wry 
word had never passed between them. ... It was pleasing to notice 
the cordiality of feeling and respect for each other shewn by these 
two old men." 

On page 397. In S. Paulo Bates found a companion and friend in the 
negro tailor of the village, named Mestre Chico, whom he had known 
in Para previously. He was a free negro by birth, but had had the ad- 
vantage of kind treatment in his younger days. . . . He neither drank, 
smoked, nor gambled, and was thoroughly disgusted at the depravity 
of all classes in this wretched little settlement, which he intended to 
quit as soon as possible. . . . His manners were courteous, and his 
talk well worth listening to for the shrewdness and good sense of his 
remarks. I first met Mestre Chico at the house of an old negress of 
Para, who used to take charge of my goods when I was absent on a 
voyage. The old woman was born a slave, but, like many others in 
the large towns of Brazil, she had been allowed to trade on her own 
account as market woman, paying a fixed sum daily to her owner, and 
keeping for herself all her surplus gains. In a few years, she had 
saved sufficient money to purchase her freedom, and that of her 
grown-up son. This done, the old lady continued to strive until she 
had earned enough to buy the house in which she lived, a considerable 
property, situated in one of the principal streets. When I returned 
from the interior, after seven years absence from Para, I found she 
was still advancing in prosperity, entirely through her own exertions, 
being a widow, and those of her son, who continued with the most 
regular industry his trade of blacksmith, and was now building a 
number of small houses onapiece of unoccupied land attached to her pro- 
perty. I found these and many other free negroes most trustworthy 
people, and admired the constancy of their friendships and the gentle- 
ness and cheerfulness of their manners towards each other." 

That this extends to other parts of South America appears from the 
opinion of Humboldt, grounded on what he had observed, not only 
amongst mulattoes, but also amongst free blacks, that " the continent 
of Spanish America can produce sugar, cotton, and indigo by free 
hands, and the unhappy slaves are capable of becoming peasants, 
farmers, and landowners." 

Here I shall quote other evidence, given before the same House of 
Commons commission, to which I have already alluded on Extinction 
of Slavery, 1832. We have there evidence as to the effects of eman- 
cipation and the working of free blacks in the Caraccas. Vice-admiral 
Fleming was examined. He had been in the Spanish naval service. 
He had twice been in the Caraccas, on one occasion for four months ; 
had been far into the interior; was, on account of his rank in the 


Spanish navy and long connection with Spaniards, as much at home, 
he says, as he could have been in any country in the world. He 
knew everybody of any condition. He took great interest in seeing 
a people newly emancipated, both from a European government (the 
revolutionary leader Bolivar had upset the Spanish Government and 
established a republic about 1821) and from slavery. 

The free blacks continued to work in the sugar plantations, even in 
conjunction with slaves. They could have got land of their own and 
lived by tilling it, but only in the cold parts of the country. They 
prefer the warm parts, where land is not to be got. They are rapidly 
progressing towards civilisation. Schools are established; many of 
the blacks are learning trades; they desire knowledge; they maintain 
themselves perfectly well without assistance from their former masters 
or government. The country was progressing, though, at the time of 
his first visit, suffering from recent war. At his second visit there 
were large fields of wheat that had not been raised before and after 
that importation from America ceased. 

Admiral Fleming knew several pure blacks in high position. One 
of them, General Peyanga, he speaks of as a well educated man, well 
read in Spanish literature, an extraordinary man. Many English 
officers served under him. There were many other black officers of 
considerable acquirements. 

I come now to my last head, the degree of civilisation, commonly, 
I think, underrated, to which the negro has attained in Africa. First, 
Barth ( Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, London, 
1857) everywhere speaks of the inhabitants of the interior of Africa as 
having attained to something at least resembling the oriental stage of 
civilisation. Perhaps the most forcible passage is the following 
(Barth 1, vol. iv. pp. 414 et seq.): — 

"A native negro sovereign of Timbuctoo, named Mohammed Askia, 
not only extended his conquests far and wide, from the centre of 
Houssa almost to the borders of the Atlantic, and from the pagan 
countries of Mosi 12 s northern latitude as far as Tawat to the south 
of Morocco, but also governed the subjected tribes with justice and 
equity, causing well-being and comfort to spring up everywhere, and 
introducing such of the institutions of Mohammedan civilisation as he 
considered might be useful to his subjects. This king was held in the 
highest esteem and veneration by the most learned and rigid Moham- 
medans, whilst his immediate predecessor, a Berber sovereign, had 
rendered himself odious. 

"In this kingdom of Timbuctoo there was a royal treasury and 
state prison. There were at least two large towns besides the capital, 
considerable cultivation of literature ; one historian of the state, 
Achmet Baba, had a library of 1,600 volumes; there was considerable 
commerce with Barbary, export of gold and salt, and in return im- 
port of almost all the luxuries of the Arabs. The king spent much 
of his revenue in introducing horses from Barbary to improve the 
native breed. Coats of mail are mentioned and brass helmets." 

This is the picture of a negro kingdom early in the sixteenth 


Not far from here, Barth found (when he was there) a negro popu- 
lation industriously employed in agriculture and weaving. They 
would not receive in barter the cotton (tarrawel) he had brought with 
him to buy food, because it was not so good as their own manufacture. 
But if it be said that these are a higher type of negroes than those 
commonly slaves, yet Abeokuta belongs to the very centre of the old 
slave region. It is thus described by Burton. The Egbas of Abeo- 
kuta all of them work, either at agriculture or at some handicraft, and 
though they do not work well (Burton says, an Englishman would 
knock up a dozen Egbas), he adds, "How can it be otherwise in 
these malarious, fever-stricken, enervating, effeminising lands. Idle- 
ness is a condition imposed by a thermometer generally above 70°." 

These people have ideas of division of labour and of trade. They 
have the five trades of blacksmith, carpenter, weaver, dyer, and potter. 
The blacksmith is also goldsmith, silversmith, copper-worker, and tin- 
man. He can make rude keys, chains and staples, swords and knives, 
sickles and hoes. No American Indian or uncivilised Polynesian 
could do these things. They weave cotton cloth, and dye it with 
indigo ; they have horses, cattle, sheep and goats. 

The town is supposed now to have 150,000 inhabitants, and its 
original settlement (by refugees) does not date further back than 
1825. It is rudely fortified. The government is republican. A body 
of negro refugees who can do this in six and thirty years are not 
savages, neither are they children who need to be under tutelage; 
they are civilised men. 

After having surveyed the condition of the negro, both slave and 
free, both in the same country with Europeans and by himself, we 
may consider it, then, to be proved that he finds his only proper 
sphere is a position which, though possibly humble, is yet one of 

Dr. Caplin said it appeared to him that the question which had 
been raised had not been met in the paper ; for it was not a com- 
mercial question respecting the quantity of produce exported when 
the negroes were in a state of slavery, and when they were emancipated, 
but whether the negro is naturally susceptible of attaining a state of 
civilisation. As to their condition in a state of slavery, he believed 
they are more happy in that state than the white slaves in England 
and in France. Considering the brain of slaves, the question was, 
could it not be improved if they were placed in another condition ? 
If the phrenological condition of the brain be considered, it must be 
admitted that they could be improved, for it was known that the 
capacity of the brain was increased and its form changed by educa- 
tion. He adduced as an example the change which was known to 
have been produced in the shape of a gentleman's head in Paris, 
several years ago. The gentleman had originally a peculiarly formed 
head, and he could wear his hat only in one direction. His intel- 
lectual faculties, however, having become developed by mechanical 
pursuits, his cranium was altered, and he was observed wearing his 
hat the wrong way. When he was informed that the buckle of his 


hat was behind, he could not believe it possible that he could be 
wearing his hat the wrong way, because the shape of his head had been 
so peculiar ; but he then ascertained that it had become altered, and 
was nearly as wide in front as it was at the back. If such a change 
could be effected by intellectual exercise in a white man, why should 
not the head of a negro become changed in the same manner ? But 
under the circumstances in which they were placed, the negroes 
could not appreciate and enjoy freedom. Instead of being emancipated 
at once, or allowed to purchase their freedom, they should have been 
sent to school, and when able to act as civilised men, and taught to 
comprehend what liberty is, and to become useful members of society, 
freedom should have been granted to them as the prize for having 
acquired that knowledge. White men rise to the positions they 
attain by education and perseverance, and if they were placed in the 
same position as the negroes, without any opportunity of improve- 
ment, they would be as ignorant and stupid as they are. He thought 
that the negro, having a brain, he could be educated as well, and 
with the same results, as those who, by the exercise of their brain, 
are now in a superior position. 

The President observed that he considered the question of the 
capacity of the negro for civilisation had been determined by the 
paper communicated to the Society at a previous meeting by Mr. 
Guppy. In that paper it was stated, on the evidence of practical ex- 
perience, that the negro is incapable of appreciating and participating 
in European civilisation, and that when removed from restraints 
imposed on him he goes back into barbarism. The paper they had 
heard that evening shewed what facts could be collected to support 
the opposite opinion. But the authorities Mr. Pusey had quoted 
were principally old authors, and it is only in modern times that 
we can obtain satisfactory information on the subject. In former 
times people were blinded to the real state of the case, by considering 
it as a political question. That consideration no longer prejudiced 
the question, and we can now look at and consider the facts im- 
partially. Mr. Pusey had collected statements which he (Mr. Pusey) 
considered satisfactory evidence of the capability of the negro for 
civilisation. 'With some of the facts stated he (the President) agreed, 
but with others he could not agree. Mr. Pusey had said that negroes 
can act as freemen in civilised society ; that they work better when 
treated like freemen. Where they were treated as freemen they were 
comparatively useless, but when taken from Africa and sent to some 
place where they are partly free they become greatly improved. Mr. 
Pusey had to go to the West Indies, and to Brazil, and to the works of 
ancient authors to support his conclusions, that the negro in a free 
state is capable of civilisation. Modern information, with the excep- 
tion of Mr. Wallace and Mr. Bates, differs materially from those 
accounts which bad been quoted. Their evidence went to show that, in 
Brazil, there were free negroes who neither smoke, drink, nor gamble. 
Cases were also mentioned of industry among the slaves in the upper 
region of the river Amazons, who worked not only to buy their own free- 
dom, but that they might purchase slaves of their own. Such descriptions 


were very different from other accounts. Though he should not like 
to deny their correctness, so far as he could judge, the facts were 
generally otherwise. It was said further that the free negroes 
worked five days of the week, and only ceased from working on 
Saturdays and Sundays. Other authors stated that the free negro 
wishes to have every day of the week a Sunday. The fact was that, 
with the conflicting evidence on the subject, no satisfactory conclu- 
sion could be arrived at. Capt. Burton asserted that idleness pre- 
vails among people of all races where the temperature exceeds 70° 
of Fahrenheit. He (the President) did not concur in that opinion, 
for he considered that idleness was more a question of race than of 
climate. Dr. Caplin had said that the free negro could become a 
useful member of civilised society, but it must be borne in mind that 
he became so in connection with Europeans ; and it was hopeless, in 
the absence of known facts, to speculate that he would become so 
without that association. That the negro is an inferior race at the 
present time is certain, and it remains to be proved whether he 
could, by any possible combination of favourable circumstances, work 
up to a high state of civilisation if left to himself. The only way by 
which such proof could be obtained would be to place a number of 
negroes on islands by themselves, excluded from all communication 
with other parts of the world, and to ascertain the advances they 
made towards civilisation in that position. But the Society have not 
got any islands whereon to carry out such an experiment. For his 
own part, he could not see the practical bearing of the paper. As 
to the question who were negroes, and whether all the natives of Africa 
ought to be so called, the question of the classification of mankind 
was at present in a very unsatisfactory state. He was glad that the 
paper had been brought forward, as he hoped it would shew those 
bigots who conceived that the negro had been unfairly treated by this 
Society, that our object was not to support slavery, or any pet doc- 
trine, but that it was simply to arrive at the truth. 

Mr. Bendyshe observed that it was extremely difficult to come to 
any conclusion about the negroes, in consequence of their varieties, 
and he should be glad if the word negro were expunged from the 
dictionary. The moment the black men got from Africa to America 
they became, in point of fact, a different race ; and the same argu- 
ment could not fairly be applied to them as to the black men in 
Africa. It was the same with other people. The English in America, 
for example, were different from the English in England ; and it was 
probable that the negroes altered very much by change of circum- 
stances. It was very possible that when they got to the West 
Indies they might be improved by intercourse with Europeans but 
at the same time it could not be said that it was impossible they 
could be civilised in Africa. In different parts of that large continent 
the negroes differed in character and in circumstances, and they 
should not all be considered as the same class. Even in London, the 
inhabitants of St. Giles's were very different from those at the West- 
end, and the former would not be taken as a representative of the 
latter. Similar differences might exist among the negroes. It was 


well known that those on the coast were of the very worst kind, and 
if they died out under such circumstances it might be regarded as a 
proof of their capability for civilisation, for we should do the same. 
It was quite impossible, in our present state of knowledge, to arrive 
at any conclusion on the subject. If the term negro were applied 
only to those black men sent from the west coast of Africa to 
America, there might be some chance of solving the question ; but 
those residing in other parts of Africa ought to have different names 
as they have different characters. They occupy an immense tract of 
country, and as they were capable of mixing among one another and 
with the whites, that was again a proof of their possessing the capability 
of improvement. In the West Indies he believed most of the negroes 
were of mixed blood. 

Mr. Bouveeie Puset observed that very few of the negroes in 
the West Indies were of mixed blood. 

Mr. Bendyshe could scarcely conceive how it was possible that it 
could be otherwise. In America the negroes were probably mixed 
with Indian blood, and it became questionable whether the influence 
of the Indian blood might not preponderate, in consequence of its 
being indigenous to the climate. A classification of the negroes was 
wanted before any conclusions could be drawn respecting them. 

Mr. G. Witt said he had been informed by a gentleman who had 
had great opportunities of observation, that there was a curious 
characteristic of the negro by which he might be distinguished. On 
feeling at the nose, a negro might be known by the absence of a 
groove in the fleshy part of the end of the nose, which all other 
people possess but those who have negro blood and a certain race in 
India. His friend told him that this peculiarity is used as a test to 
discover negro blood when the colour of the skin has changed ; and 
that at a ball at New Orleans a man was stationed at the top of the 
stairs, who grasped at the nose of all suspected persons, and if the 
groove was absent they were kicked down. 

Mr. C. Carter Blake said the fact mentioned by Mr. Witt was 
far from unlikely, and if at any future time the comparative myology 
of the negro should be adequately examined, the alleged distinction 
might prove as correct as many others which pass current in the 
present state of imperfect knowledge. As to the assumed difference 
between the negro of Africa and of America, he was at a loss to 
know in what it consisted. They have been placed in different cir- 
cumstances, but there are no physical differences between them. It 
had been said that if the negro were educated, his skull would be- 
come altered and resemble that of an European. But, in opposition 
to that opinion, he adduced the fact that the skull of a Wesleyan 
deacon in Bermuda was among the lowest of the low negro types. 
The physical differences between the negro and European had on 
previous occasions been pointed out, and in the form of the teeth 
also there was supposed to be a difference, and there was strong ana- 
tomical evidence to confirm that distinction. In the second volume of 
Waitz's Anthropologic der Naturvolker there was some curious informa- 

voi.. II. — no. yii. x 


tion respecting the characteristics and geographical distribution of the 
true negro of the west and of the east coast of Africa. 

Mr. Dtj Val observed that there is a peculiarity in the physio- 
gnomy of the negro sufficient to distinguish him, in his projecting 
lips, his flat nose, and the placing of his head, independently of the 
colour of his skin. The length of his heel was also characteristic. 
So that at neither extremity of his body did the negro resemble our- 
selves ; and he doubted very much whether he could be considered 
a " brother," or even a relative. It was well known that the negroes 
had never attained a position among civilised men. Every attempt to 
civilise them had failed, for they had always gone back to their 
original state. 

Mr. Keddie thought they should never come to a satisfactory con- 
clusion respecting the capability of negroes for civilisation until they 
had some definition of what was meant by civilisation. No one would 
deny that the negro might be improved, and taught to do certain 
things, as some domesticated animals may be, but could that be called 
civilisation ? The Southern States of America had been alluded to 
as having improved the negroes, and the degree of improvement they 
had attained had been appealed to by both parties as supporting their 
opposite opinions. It was a great pity that there should be so much 
party spirit as existed in America on this question. But in a society 
like this, they might get rid of the question whether freedom should 
be immediately granted to the negroes or not. He supposed no one 
there would object to the negro becoming free, so soon as he is fitted 
for freedom ; at the same time he thought the true philanthropists 
were those who would keep the slaves in slavery so long as it was 
for their benefit, but, of course, under humane laws, and with proper 
regulations for their ultimate manumission. The questions of capability 
of civilisation and of fitness for freedom, though separate, had been 
mixed up in the paper, and had thus added to the difficulty of consider- 
ing the subject. He thought, however, that some conclusions might be 
arrived at from the facts already known, without the necessity of having 
experimental islands, as had been suggested by the President. He ex- 
pected that the author of the paper would have taken a bolder line; but 
as the question had been treated, he did not know whether Mr. Pusey 
wished to regard the negro as having always been in % savage condition, 
or whether he thought that, having once been in a higher position, he 
had since sunk down to a savage state. If he meant that the African in 
the central parts of Africa had ever attained a state of civilisation, 
then the negroes on the coast were unquestionably a degraded race, 
and it could not be expected that, if they remained under the same in- 
fluences, they would be improved. The only chance of their improve- 
ment was to place them among a higher race. To suppose that without 
such influence they could rise from a lower state was absurd, because 
against our actual experience. Even with the influence of civilisa- 
tion it was a very hard task to raise the negro to a state approaching 
the European. Before, however, they could determine the question 
of the negro's capacity for civilisation, they must first have a defini- 
tion of what was meant by the term. The better kind of negroes in 

PT/8EY ON THE NEGRO. cclxxxix 

America are, no doubt, superior to many Europeans in this country, 
for we have many degraded people among us; but individual in- 
stances could not settle the question. Those who assumed the 
natural equality of the negro race to us, were met with this difficulty : 
if the negro were capable of rising to a state of civilisation equal to the 
European ; and if he could even achieve it without the influence of a 
higher race, how could they account for his now being, throughout 
the world, in a degraded condition? If the negroes possess the power 
to elevate themselves, why do they not rise ? Why have they not 
already risen ? 

Mr. Boovebie Pusey then replied severally to the objections which 
had been made to his paper. With respect to Dr. Caplin's objection, 
that he had treated the subject too commercially, he said he had only 
treated it as to shew that the conduct of the emancipated negroes was 
different according to the different modes in which they had been 
treated. He agreed that the condition of slavery tends to cramp the 
energy of the slaves, who, having no difficulties to encounter in pro- 
curing food and clothing, never acquired the habit of forethought 
and provision ; and what they had done for themselves under those 
circumstances he considered very remarkable. The President had 
objected that the authorities quoted in the paper were very old, but to 
many of them that objection would not apply; for instance, he had 
quoted in support of his views Sewell, Underhill, Burton, Bates, 
and Wallace, all of whom were modern authors. But why should not 
old authorities be trustworthy? It had been said that they were par- 
tial and biassed by political prejudices, but all those he had quoted, 
with one exception, were against the abolitionists. The President 
thought that the evidence of Mr. Wallace and Mr. Bates was excep- 
tional to that of other modern travellers ; but his investigations led 
him to entertain a different opinion, the general evidence appearing 
to him to be favourable to the negro. Mr. Witt and Mr. Blake had 
adverted to physical differences between the negro and European. 
That, however, was a large subject, and not exactly now under dis- 
cussion. Whatever might be the result of anatomical investigation, 
it would not affect his argument ; for his own part, indeed, he, while 
as a transmutationist not attaching to the distinction the same import- 
ance as many a transmutationist, believed the negro to be a different 
species from the European. Mr. Bendyshe had laid stress on the differ- 
ence between the negro in Africa and out of it, and that when out of 
Africa the negro was altered by mixed blood. If that were so, it would 
be in favour of his (Mr. Pusey's) argument; but he did not think much 
confusion could arise between the true negroes and those of mixed 
blood. He agreed that it was important to distinguish between the 
different tribes of negroes in Africa, though most persons believe that 
they all belong to the same stock. Mr. Reddie had drawn distinctions 
between the capacity for civilisation and such improvements as take 
place in the negro when in a state of slavery. It was true that a 
negro might be made a slave and taught certain things in the same 
manner as brutes are taught, but that was only domestication. In his 
opinion, nothing could be termed civilisation that does not imply 


freedom, and the possession of sufficient qualities of intelligence and 
perseverance to fulfil the duties of civilised life. It had been asked 
by Mr. Reddie, why does not the negro, if capable of civilisation, 
civilise himself? He (Mr. Pusey) might ask, in reply, why have not 
the New Zealanders and other barbarous races raised themselves to a 
state of civilisation equal to the Europeans ? It had been objected that 
many of the cases he adduced were only individual instances, and that 
they proved nothing, but for his part he considered that individual 
instances prove a great deal in connection with other things. 

The President stated that another paper had been announced 
to be read, respecting human remains discovered in a kist in the Isle 
of Portland, but it had been ascertained that the flint flakes found 
with them were spurious, and the paper had consequently been with- 
drawn. The President then said it was his present duty to announce 
that the meetings of the society for the season had been brought to a 
close, and that the next meeting would be held on the 1st November. 
At the approaching meeting of the British Association at Bath, 
anthropology would be represented in Section E, and he trusted the 
Fellows of the Anthropological Society would meet there and support 
the claims of anthropology to be recognised as a distinct science in 
the proceedings of the association. During the six months that had 
elapsed since the anniversary meeting, two hundred new Fellows had 
been added to their list, and he hoped that under the influence of 
their assistant secretary, Mr. Blake, and that of the Council, when 
they met again, he should have to announce a considerable increase 
of members and the further success of the Society. 

The meeting then adjourned to the 1st November next.